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04-02-2005, 06:21 PM
Questions & Answers

Q What became of former women’s world snooker champion Allison Fisher? — Philippa Laing, Dumfries

A Having spent several years as snooker’s best woman player, Allison Fisher is established as the world’s leading female nine-ball player. Nine-ball is an American game that is similar to the pool played in most British pubs. She has won more nine-ball tournaments (61) than all of her rivals combined and more than five times as many as the woman in second place. She claimed her first world snooker title at 17 and went on to win it seven times, as well as three world mixed doubles and a world ladies’ doubles title, as she bagged more than 80 titles in total. For all of her success, Fisher grew bored because there was nobody to provide her with a real challenge. She was also finding it difficult to make a living from snooker, so in 1995 she went to the US to compete in the women’s professional billiards pro 9-ball tour. She won the second tournament she entered and has never looked back, winning the world championship in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000. Now billed as ‘The Duchess of Doom’, she is still ranked No 1 and has already hit the winning trail this year.— Clement Fredericks, Ipswich

Q Is it true there was a pool champion called Minnesota Fats? — Mike Hughes, Llandudno

A Minnesota Fats featured in two novels by Walter Tevis, The Hustler and The Color Of Money. After The Hustler was published in 1959, a New York pool player named Rudolph Wanderone, below, claimed to be the inspiration for Minnesota Fats, the character portrayed by Jackie Gleason in the 1961 movie. This irked Tevis, and when a later edition of his book was published, he added this preface: ‘I once saw a fat player with a facial tic. I once saw another player who was physically graceful. Both were minor hustlers, as far as I could tell. Both seemed loud and vain — with little dignity or grace, unlike my fat pool player. I made up Minnesota Fats, name and all, as surely as Disney made up Donald Duck.’ In Wanderone’s defence, it must be admitted that Tevis gave his creation Wanderone’s facial tic and the player clearly thought this was sufficient reason to increase his minor celebrity by changing his name. Previously, Wanderone had been known as New York Fats, Brooklyn Fats, or just plain Fats. According to the Billiard Congress of America, Wanderone never won a world championship. He was, nonetheless, inducted into its hall of fame in 1984 for ‘meritorious service’, having ‘probably done more for the game in terms of sheer exposure than any other player’. Wanderone died in 1996. — John Lee, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
web page (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2094-1552008,00.html)